The Washington Mystics have now made the 2015 WNBA Playoffs. This is their third consecutive appearance which stretches back to 2013 -- the first time they have done so in franchise history -- all under General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault who took over that season.
The good news from a franchise perspective is this. The Mystics have finally built a culture of playing consistent basketball. They simply haven't been that way before he arrived.
Since he came, the Mystics now have a team comprised of mostly younger players who enjoy playing for Thibault. They enjoy playing with each other, and they like playing for the nation's capital.
That said, Thibault's work is far from done in Washington. We shouldn't anoint him as a saint simply for leading the Mystics to three consecutive playoff berths. From this day forward, Thibault must be judged based on how the team does in the postseason since that's where they are still lacking.
Thibault, who is the WNBA's all-time leader in regular season wins, was already very close to claiming that spot when he arrived in Washington before the 2013 season.
After winning 206 games with the Connecticut Sun from 2003-12, he only needed to win six more games in order to break Van Chancellor's mark of 211 wins with the Houston Comets dynasty in the league's early days. After Tuesday's win over Indiana, Thibault has 256. In short, people around the WNBA know that Thibault's teams are getting a fair share of wins.
However, when it comes to postseason success, Thibault falls short. Chancellor won four consecutive championships with Houston from 1997-2000 while Thibault has only two Finals appearances in 2004 and 2005 with Connecticut. In Washington, Thibault has only won one out of five total playoff games with the Mystics in two seasons.
Sure, the one playoff win back in 2013 was the Mystics' first postseason win overall since 2004 and it is an accomplishment. But they still haven't won a postseason series since 2002 which was back in the day when Abe Pollin was the owner and Chamique Holdsclaw was the face of the team.
I'm happy that the Mystics have now built a culture of playing consistent basketball. But I'm still not convinced that they can win a playoff series this season. That said, I still look forward to seeing how they do, and I'm willing to eat crow if they make a deep playoff run.
In short, I'll finish my thoughts by saying this. The Mystics have come a long way as a franchise since Mike Thibault arrived. I'm thrilled that the average WNBA fan doesn't consider them a joke franchise like they were in the couple years before he arrived.
However, the hard work now really begins for Thibault after setting a baseline standard of consistency over the last few seasons. I may not agree with everything he does, but here's hoping that Thibault can lead the Mystics to a deep playoff run, sooner rather than later.